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Millions of television doctors wrong about John Terry’s knee injury

Nov 12, 2012, 12:47 PM EDT

Chelsea's injured captain Terry walks across the pitch following their English Premier League soccer match against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge Stadium in London Reuters

Either John Terry is made of adamantium or we got way ahead of ourselves assuming the Chelsea captain would be a long-term absence. I’m guessing the latter, because if he was made of some indestructible material Alexei Sanchez would be in a wheelchair.

Yet with today’s news from the club that Terry will be out “weeks not months” after Luis Suárez was pushed into his weight-baring right leg on Sunday, we’re forced to ask if Terry dogged a bullet or is a footballing superhero. Not that dogging bullets can’t be super heroic.

In this case, though, there’s no heroism. Terry’s bullet dodging isn’t even truly lucky, unless millions of amateur doctors making television diagnoses can generate luck. Today’s news that Terry won’t be sidelined by surgery and a prolonged recovery is as much about the world being really, really wrong as it is about what actually happened on Sunday.

Incidentally, I was one of those amateur doctors, and I make no apologies for thinking the worst. After hearing Terry’s scream radiate through Stamford Bridge, it would take an unhealthy amount of cynicism to ignore something might have been very, very wrong. But does that mean we should have entertained that scenario to the exclusion of all others? Well, you get where I’m going with this.

On Sunday, Terry was replaced by Gary Cahill in the 40th minute, Suárez’s fall bending his right leg backward before the 31-year-old collapsed to the turf. Terry immediately waved for help, with oxygen briefly administered before Chelsea medical staff stretchered him from the field.

I can’t remember the last time such precautions were taken for what sounds like a ligament strain (if I may play amateur medic once more), but the next time a scenario like this transpires, at least I can say “let’s just hope this turns out to be a John Terry situation.”

Here’s Chelsea’s whole statement. All two sentences of it:

Today’s MRI scans on John Terry’s right knee thankfully show no significant damage to the cruciate ligaments.

Chelsea Football Club’s medical team will conduct further tests over the next two or three days once the swelling has subsided to determine how long John will be out, but it will be a matter of weeks not months.

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